Sometimes the Muse shows up and it’s heady. Words pour effortlessly onto the page, and everything is perfect.
Mostly, though, it’s just you. You, struggling to figure out what to tackle first on your incredible to-do list. Oh, look, laundry! Oh, I should wash dishes! Anything but stare, stare, stare at the blank screen.
Well, I learned how to wrestle the blank screen thanks to the MFA. I had deadlines and had to satisfy an audience of one (professor). I wrote stuff I was FAR from passionate about or even remotely interested. Somehow I reached “A” territory, but it was tough. Totally perspiration-driven, not inspired. There is nothing more agonizing than staring for hours, writing a few lines, and feeling like you’re a total failure. I sweated bullets trying to make it before the deadline. And…I learned. Learned that regardless of how I felt, how uninspired, I could produce words.
That was why I took the leave of absence for spring 2016 from the program. If I could spend that much time, effort and agony on items I was far from passionate about, what could I do for myself?
Inspiration does not believe in deadlines. It doesn’t stop for mundane things, like sleep. Or pain. At the end of December 2015, I had major dental surgery. As I’ve gotten more healed, sleep has gone by the wayside. This past week, I woke up well before the sun did, and decided to open my laptop. Sitting in the dark, listening to the rain, I began to tap out a new short story on my laptop.
Why, you ask? 1. Because I was awake. 2. Because I knew sleep wasn’t coming any time soon. 3. Because INSPIRATION had showed up and you grab it where it comes. 4. Because once the demands of the day kick in, ideas flee.
Maybe this bit of inspiration will prove to not be viable, but never wasted. I can use the idea in either this novel or its sequel. Either way, I win.
Both inspiration and perspiration, though, are vital to produce work. I hope I can keep them balanced.
To contribute to the feel of needing to produce to deadlines, I’ve got a tracking sheet that if I follow through on all of the monthly word counts, I will produce 250,000 words by the end of 2016. Here’s hoping!